The Braves missed a prime opportunity in letting Eduardo Rodriguez slip away

The Braves let one of the few starters that fit their mold the best slip through their fingers.

Sep 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57)
Sep 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the offseason, the one thing that has been clear from the beginning is that the Atlanta Braves needed to add a starting pitcher at some point. Max Fried and Spencer Strider are a fine 1/2 punch at the top of the rotation, but the Braves pitching depth was a problem in 2023 and isn't likely to get better without some addition especially given the moves Atlanta has made this offseason.

No longer can the Braves hope that Kyle Wright or Mike Soroka will get healthy or that Jared Shuster can live up to his draft position. Those guys are gone now. Complicating matters is that Max Fried is entering his last year of team control and it sure doesn't seem like an extension is coming anytime soon. This is a Braves team that has to get their long-term rotation plans sorted out and soon.

While a lot of the bigger names on the free agent market in terms of starters never felt like great fits for how the Braves operate, there were a couple intriguing options out there. Unfortunately, the Braves were rebuffed by Aaron Nola when he returned to the Phillies, Sonny Gray went to the Cardinals, and now Eduardo Rodriguez is off the market as he signed a four year deal with the Diamondbacks.

Atlanta is running out of starter options now that E-Rod is off the market

While guys like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jordan Montgomery, and Blake Snell are all going to make big money this offseason, Eduardo Rodriguez felt like a guy that could be in the Braves' wheelhouse. He wasn't expected to require a nine figure salary to sign and he has been pretty productive on the mound for several years. In 2023, he was one of the best pitchers in the American League in the first half and ended the season with a 3.30 ERA in 26 starts with Detroit.

There are some things that could have scared the Braves off. While decent lefty pitchers are hard to come by, E-Rod has mostly been a back-to-middle of the rotation starter in his career and still managed to get $20 million a year for the next four years. That's a good bit of money for a guy like that. He also dealt with a finger injury last season and injuries/personal issues cost him a bunch of time during the 2022 season. He was far from a slam dunk.

However, E-Rod signing in Arizona presents a larger problem for the Braves as the number of logical starter options available to them is dwindling quickly. Sure, the Braves will likely continue to at least keep tabs on Dylan Cease's trade market and Shane Bieber remains an option there as well, but the cheaper rotation arms are only going to dwindle as the offseason goes on. Competition determines prices this time of year and every team wants arms right now. With that demand in place, it isn't going to get any easier to add a starter as the offseason goes on.

Alex Anthopoulos and co. does deserve the benefit of the doubt, however. Their creativity in bringing in Jarred Kelenic to fill the void in left field was a sight to behold even if it ends up not working out. Maybe the Braves have something cooking this offseason that nobody sees coming or maybe the Braves feel like guys such as Hurston Waldrep and AJ Smith-Shawver are better options for them in 2024 than what the market could provide especially given the costs involved on the trade market and in free agency.

We will find out soon enough, but one thing is certain: Atlanta is running out of time to get their preferred deals done as the offseason is finally starting to get moving now and is only likely to accelerate in the coming days and weeks.

More Braves News from House That Hank Built